Seattle City Council members have put forward 14 amendments to Mayor Ed Murray’s cornerstone affordable housing legislation, including one intended to help replace cheap apartments demolished during the city’s recent construction boom.
Last year, Murray unveiled his “Grand Bargain” with developers, where building size bonuses would be given for a payment or performance system that requires multi-family developers either make 5% to 8% of units income restricted or pay a fee into an affordable housing fund.
The Mandatory Affordable Housing measure is expected to create 6,000 income restricted units over the next 10 years. However, City Council member Lisa Herbold says the city has demolished roughly the same amount of “affordable” apartments over the past decade, particularly in desirable neighborhoods.
Three amendments recently discussed in the City Council’s planning committee are attempting to address the issue. Amendments from Herbold and Council member Mike O’Brien state the council’s intention to increase the payment and performance requirements in neighborhoods most at risk of displacement. High displacement areas were identified in the Seattle 2035 report, published in May. O’Brien, who represents northwest Seattle, said the amendment would help bring back affordable units in desirable areas — something he says many residents in those areas are asking for.
Another amendment would require the city to publish a report in 2018 to measure performance of the grand bargain. It would include an analysis of how many projects took the payment versus performance options and recommendations to get an even split.
District 4 rep Rob Johnson proposed an amendment hat would lengthen the terms of affordability for units crated under the program from 50 to 100 years. The adjustment brings the legislation inline with standard affordable housing practices, according to Johnson. Other amendments would make the following changes to the legislation:
- Adds an additional decision criterion for investment of cash contributions in affordable housing to include proximity to projects choosing the payment option.
- Clarifies that where an affordable rental unit is converted to an ownership unit the existing tenant has a right of first offer.
- Authorizes the Office of Housing Director to establish initial monitoring fees. And, establishes that annual fees may
- Where rental units provided under the performance option are converting to ownership, provides the option for affordable rental units to be converted to affordable ownership units.
Proponents of the MHA framework say it will be crucial to unlocking the lion’s share of the 20,000 units of affordable housing Murray has called for. Last week’s meeting builds on the resolution passed last fall as the Council members consider the legislation to update the Seattle Municipal Code. Rezoning and upzones in certain key areas like 23rd and Union are also part of the proposal.
The City Council’s planning committee will be discussing the amendments again during its Tuesday morning meeting.